tv [untitled] February 25, 2011 12:30am-1:00am PST
restorative justice for youth program in oakland. linda. [applause] >> good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the koret auditorium of the san francisco public library. i'm a member of the african- american interest committee here at the library. it is our hope that you will be profoundly moved and inspired by what you hear and see today. social justice is concerned with equal justice, not just in the court, but in all aspects of society. this concept demands that people have equal rights and opportunity. everyone, from the poorest person on the margins of society to the wealthiest, deserves an even playing field. every race, every color, every culture.
what happened in 1955 is not unlike what is exploding out of the headlines today. it was a young person's death that started the uprising in tunisia. it is young people on the front lines in egypt. slowly but surely, the young people in sudan are following suit and rising up against an oppressive government. it was a young girl who stood still when she was ordered to give up her seat to a white woman, violently taken from the bus, pushed into a police car, ridiculed on her way to the station, and shot inside a jail cell until she was bailed out hours later -- shut inside a jail cell until she was bailed out hours later. hers is a powerful story, along with that of a man who was racially profiled and accused of a crime he did not commit. i would like to invite ronald, who garner's several
proclamations from various officials, and we would like to present them to ms. claudia -- to ms. claudette colvin. we want to thank him for his efforts in securing these proclamations. if ms. colvin would come up as well. >> it is an honor to be asked to make these presentations. the elected officials represented here are trailblazers themselves. many of them have been the first in their community to hold office. for example, ed lee, the first chinese-american to be appointed mayor in san francisco, is represented in this group. so is our congresswoman, nancy pelosi, the first woman ever to become speaker of the house in the history of the united
states. [applause] tom amiano, who has been a historic figure and trailblazer, coming from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered community. [applause] also, our newest elected official, supervisor cohen, with her election last november at age 32, is the youngest african-american ever to be elected to the board of supervisors. [applause] she is now san francisco's highest-ranking elected official who is african-american, one of three women on the 11-member body, and the only african- american on that 11-member body. let me read -- since we are short on time -- the letter from the united states senator, dianne feinstein. it reads, "dear mrs. colvin,
it is a pleasure for me to join your friends, family, and colleagues in recognizing you for all the work you have done in the fight for civil rights. thank you for dedicating your life to the cause of equality. you have given so much to this country. when you refuse to give up your bus seat on march 2, 1955, it ignited a spark within montgomery, alabama, that helped begin the process of change. the landmark united states supreme court case that eventually ended segregation on all buses within this country could not have been achieved without your valiant efforts that began with your testimony against the montgomery public transportation system. i commend you for your passion, courage, and dedication. very few people could have demonstrated the level of conviction you showed at the young age of 15. young people today view you as a role model and as an important
figure in the history of the civil rights movement. as united states senator representing the people of california, i commend your outstanding service to this country. i wish you good health and happiness in the years to come. sincerely yours, diane feinstein, united states senator -- dianne feinstein, united states senator." [applause] >> i don't know what to say. i'm so overwhelmed. it really feels good to get some recognition from the politicians and top politicians. i'm glad that i lived to see this day. [applause] and i want to thank all who have
made this day possible, including all the people at the library that put this event together. thank you very much. [applause] >> now, i would like to introduce the driving force behind this program, and award- winning, internationally known storyteller, recording artist, and educator. she is a truth teller and an artist for social change. she has made it her life's work to tell history through the words of its off forgotten witnesses. zero two one-women shows -- she wrote two one-women shows. she told the true story of the 1955-1956 montgomery bus boycott through the eyes of four women.
please help me welcome her. >> i guess you are wondering why i'm standing here. [inaudible] my teachers have been teaching me a lot about standing up for what is right. it was a week right after negro history week. i like negro history week a lot because we learn about people who make a difference. that is what i want to do. teh white -- the white section was empty, and the colored section was full, so i sat in
the middle, the seat on the left, the last one in the middle. i was not thinking about anything in particular. i had a chocolate candy bar, and i was looking out the window. an older girl sat next to me. i continued looking out the window. more people got on the bus, and some more color and some were white, and soon, no more seats were available. colored folks started getting up, and white folks started taking their seats. i just stared straight ahead. "make light on your feet." other people got up, but i told myself that i would just stay seated. folks started staring at me. you know why -- you know, white folks. [laughter]
"she knows where she belongs." open " i hope she is not one of them troublemakers --"i hope she is not one of the troublemakers." me? a troublemaker? just because of how i was born? my daddy that -- got a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. board rogers was coming to town -- roy rogers was coming to town. it was for white kids only. why? they think we are troublemakers? i do not want to make trouble.
troublemaker. just because of how we are born, we have to be troublemakers. that is when i looked and saw ms. hamilton getting on the bus. wait, let me get back on -- wait, driver, please, let me get back on. ms. hamilton, she sat right next to me. "you need to get out so i can drive on -- get up so i can drive on." [inaudible]
i want to stay black and die a natural death. [laughter] segregation is killing black people. that big fight, brown versus the board of education so all the black kids can get an education. [inaudible] the books have pages missing, and they all have things written inside of them. at the main library, we have a demonstration going on. [inaudible] how come we cannot use that facility? they cannot even get a good job and fair pay. men, they come up missing. rape -- they do not want to talk about that, but if it is a white woman, it is on the news, on the radio, on television.
i do not want to die like that. so i'm going to stay black and die. if i could do one thing -- >> i told you, you need to move on. do i need to get the police?" >> sir, i picked -- "sir, i paid my fare. it is my constitutional right." the driver gets off the bus. police officers come. they are at the back door. "i had trouble with this girl before."
"the two of you need to get up. you know it is against the law." open " i paid my fair -- "i paid my fare. if i move now, i will get sick. i'm pregnant." there is a volunteer. i think he was sensing there was going to be trouble or something. ms. hamilton, she got up and took his seat. "officer, i did not know it was the law. that is not what the city ordinance said." "get up. get out." "i paid my fare. it is my constitutional right."
next thing i know, they were taking my photographs and fingerprints. dan, i was locked behind this -- then, i was locked behind this cell. two weeks later, people were outraged. women could not believe it -- a child drug off a bus? violated segregation law, but they dropped two of the charges because i think they thought we were trying to challenge the case, take it higher. [inaudible] he actin' crazy.
i just stopped looking people in the eye and kept to myself. felt like an outsider. i don't want to be humiliated. [inaudible] [applause] >> that is the piece that people are finally learning about -- that is the case that people are finally learned about, but more important is the case that happened a year later. a federal court case was filed challenging the segregated buses.
the plaintiffs -- on may 11, that hearing began in 1956. the attorney, her lawyer when she was 15, and who did not win that case, but said her case [inaudible] realized that they could potentially win. claudette colvin was the star witness in the federal court case. that case had went to the supreme -- that case went to the supreme court. [inaudible] the rest is history. [applause]
>> ok, i would like to bring to the stage our honored guest. i'm going to introduce him, and if you and mrs. colvin could make your way. described as an artist who speaks the truth we desperately need to hear, is a harvard law graduate, prison activist, hip- hop artist, grand slam poetry champion, actor, author, and educator. his new book, "the ugly side of beautiful: rethinking race in prisons in america" will be published later this year. the start of the off-broadway hip-hop theater production, he has lectured and performed at over 100 colleges and correctional facilities in the united states, africa, asia,
latin america, and europe. he has released two albums to critical acclaim, taught at brooklyn college, new york university, the new school in columbia university, and is now touring lyrics for lockdown. one of those is sponsored by the naacp. i learned that he is beginning rehearsals for the remakes of "the wiz." let's welcome him. [applause] our moderator for this afternoon, world renowned anti- racist, multicultural educator. [applause] yes. as many of you in the audience know, she is an accomplished front line teacher.
a teacher, educators, researchers, writers, consultant, speaker. she is like a mother, auntie, big sister, all in one, for me. she has taught in canada, the caribbean, and the u.s. and has been involved in the development of teachers for two decades. she consults on anti-racist inclusion very and equitable education. she assists school districts and schools to continually restructure themselves for equitable outcomes for all students. the initiative put that puts race -- she designed the initiative that puts race on the table. she is the virtual scholar for teaching for change. she is the author of "reality check," a major report on
education. maybe conversation began. >> this is an occasion when we are going to talk across generations. these two guests here. and then we have some time for you to talk with them. the afternoon is full, and we are on to a little bit of a late start, so let me tell you how we hope to go. we will begin with ms. colvin giving 10 minutes of her very long and illustrious life in terms of work for civil rights. just 10 minutes. then, bryonn bain, whose life is not as long but illustrious nonetheless, will give 10 minutes also with some trauma at the head of it. and then we will have a conversation for the next maybe 20 minutes, amongst the three of us.
then we will open it to the floor for you to ask them questions. the goal is this -- when we leave this afternoon -- as a teacher, you have to have your objectives set, yes? any teacher with herself has to know what you want to have come of this. what i want to have, this is that we are all more informed about the way in which systems of racism work in this country -- what i want to have come of this. and also have a clear sense of what each of us can do about it and what we individually will do with our own work. that is the assignment. let's get started. i'm going to ask ms. colvin to, in 10 minutes or so, stick to two important dates, mentioned by awele. the march to date and the may 11
date in court -- the march 2 date and may 11 date. i know there is a lot to say, but if you could fill us in on that and then move on. >> first, i would like to say, good evening, everyone. i will try to take you back to march 2, but first, i have to begin with when i first understood that the races were separated. i was born in alabama, but i moved to live with my biological aunt and uncle. remember, in the rural area, there are no signs saying " white" and "colored" because it
is too difficult, but how i learned about it is in the general store. they sell everything. everything you want to find in the post office, the bus station -- everything has been in the general store. one day, i was standing in line. it was a summer day, and some white kids came in. funny thing about it -- you know their parents' names, but you do not know the children's names because you are not allowed to interact with white children. they came in, and they were laughing, and the older ones started punching me. one of the little boys -- i do not know, somebody was saying something about my hands. he wanted to see my hands. i just raised them up. i was wondering what they wanted
to see my hands for. what happened was the white boy placed his hands against my hands, and his mother looked at my mom, and my mom looked at me, and she gave me a backhand slap. from then on, i knew that i was not supposed to talk to a white child or interact with a white child. that was a very early age. i was maybe around five or six years old. then, my mother explained to me about -- and words stuck in my mind -- "white folks." another occasion happened to me in a five and ten-cent store. i have to tell you this to put it in perspective. it was not just march 2. it was all the bad experiences that i have had as a child at
that young age that i should not have had to have gone through. there was a lunch counter. i still tell everybody i love the smell of that by then 10 -- that five and ten. i looked over and saw these little white kids sitting on coca-cola -- sipping on coca- cola. they were eating double-decker'' sandwiches, and my mother was looking away, and i sneaked over there. i knew she would come over there and buy me one. she came back and grabbed me by the back of my collar and pulled me -- she said, "i told you, that is for white folks." you learn at a very early age.
she said, "honey, are you hungry?" i was not hungry, but i saw what those white children had. those are the little things that stick in your mind as you grow up. and another thing you learn about trying on clothes in the department store. all of that was going on in my mind at a very young age. what really set it off -- i had two teachers -- during february, we did it for the whole month because we figured we had been cheated out of our history of america. only two names were in the encyclopedia, and that was booker t. washington and george washington carver, but she
lectured about the contribution of frederick douglass, w.e.b. dubois, and how jackie robinson had broken the baseball barrier. and we remembered the opera singer who was not allowed to sing in the hall and had to sing in lincoln center. all the discrimination and the local in justices. like, everything was separate and unequal. the school was inadequate. we could not go to the hospitals. they built a house adjacent to the main hospital. the white people were not supposed to be in the same room with an n-person. you know the n-word? i said to myself at the end of the day that i love my country
and i'm glad that that day, i took a stand. i saw through the supreme court that the flaws that america had tried to correct them by removing those horrible signs -- "white" and "colored." i said when i testified at the trial, i went through how we were treated, and the lady dramatize it, so i do not have to go through that, but it is the whole system of separate but unequal. it is understates rights -- is under states' rights. after lincoln had freed us from slavery, they instituted this law, separate but